- Each parent has to be in the right. This is the worst, because it escalates the battles. The parents are so invested in proving that the other one is/was wrong, they're so interested in "winning," that they don't even notice what they're doing to their kids. The most important person in their lives now is their lawyer. They think that once they've "won" and proved to the world that the ex is a bitch or bastard, then everything will be all right with the kids. In the first place, neither of you is going to win, in the second place, you've already damaged your children. GROW UP AND WALK AWAY, NOW!
- The parents use the kids as revenge. This is the common extension of parents wanting to be in the right. They usually subject their kids to a long and acrimonious custody battle that they convince themselves is in the "best interests of the children." It never is. Unless there's actual child abuse going on, the kids are just the excuse to keep the drama and resentment going, sometimes for years, and the parents are so blindly selfish they don't see it.
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- The parents use child support or visits as revenge. A common complaint is "Why should I pay when he/she doesn't let me see the kids?" or "Why should I let him/her see the kids when he/she isn't paying child support?" Because the kids should see each parent and because parents should financially support their children, that's why. You're teaching your kids that it's all about the money. That your kids are on the same level as entertainment – if you don't get any enjoyment from them, why should you pay? That your ex should pay for the company of their children?
- The parents involve the whole family in the divorce. A divorce is between two people and two people only: the husband and wife. But those two frequently involve their own parents and their own siblings, each side enlisting the family members to take sides. Do they even care that they're alienating their children from their grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins? That the kids now don't even have uninvolved family members to whom they can turn for comfort?
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- The parents badmouth the ex to the kids. Or subject the kids to a relentless cross-examination or "innocent questions" about what the ex is doing, or about the new wife/girlfriend or husband/boyfriend every time the child comes back from a parental visit. The parents use the excuse that "after all, my child is being exposed to that person." That isn't the real reason and the parent is lying to him or herself. This petty behavior hurts your children by putting them in the position of having to either "tattle" on the parent or learn to lie or keep silent. If you want to know something, be adult enough to call your ex and ask – and if doing this makes you feel small or uncomfortable, think how it makes your child feel.